Hawai'i House Democrats
House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness Holds Second Briefing
Business, labor, government, nonprofit leaders focus on keeping social safety net intact
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – The House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness held its second informational briefing on Monday, March 30, focusing this week on keeping our social safety net intact during the current economic recession.
“What has been made so clear today is that this committee has a statewide pulse on people, on the safety net, and on business needs,” said House Speaker Scott K. Saiki. “We are going to have to work together as we start planning to reboot the economy of our state.
“The silver lining in this is that everybody sees a common purpose and we are going to make Hawaiʻi more resilient, more economically stable. This committee will play an important role in that.”
U.S. Representative Ed Case and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz joined the briefing to provide updated information on the federal CARES Act. Federal support will include expanded unemployment benefits, cash payments to low- and middle-income residents, small business relief and funds to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
“This pandemic has proven that nobody can do it alone,” said Representative Stacelynn K.M. Eli (‘Ewa Villages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko ‘Olina, Kahe Point, Nānākuli, Lualualei, Mā‘ili). “Congressman Ed Case and Senator Brian Schatz have been instrumental in listening to individuals, state, and county government, using that information to secure federal assistance, and preparing people and entities to take advantage of aid as soon as it becomes available. This demonstrates the importance of working together and leveraging on-the-ground experiences from across government, sectors, and communities to identify and address needs throughout the state.”
The Select Committee today received updates on the following topics:
University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO)
Food Supply Chain
Construction of shovel ready Capital Improvement Projects
“The Select Committee has a critical role to play in preparing for our eventual economic recovery by identifying, streamlining, and positioning shovel-ready construction projects for action,” said Representative Kyle T. Yamashita (Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Keokea, Ulupalakua, Kahului). “This work is essential for keeping people employed, helping people return to work as soon as jobs are available, and ensuring that the state has a robust, sustained recovery.” “In these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to bring together stakeholders – through collaborative efforts such as the Select Committee – to identify all the resources and flexibilities that are available to help individuals and families remain in their homes, put food on their table, and remain in or return to work,” said Labor and Public Employment Chair Representative Aaron Ling Johanson (Moanalua, Red Hill, Foster Village, ‘Aiea, Fort Shafter, Moanalua Gardens, Āliamanu, Lower Pearlridge).
Carl Bonham, UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics, said Hawaiʻi is in a deep recession that will surpass anything we have seen in our lifetimes and it will take an extended period of time for the economy to recover.
“It is time to start planning what it is going to take to reopen our economy,” Bonham said. “We deal with the health crisis immediately, we deal with the keeping people in their homes and the most needy right away, but we need to start talking about what has to happen next.”
“The dimension of economic situation that Carl Bonham describes is unprecedented,” said Committee Co-Chair Peter Ho, President & CEO of the Bank of Hawaiʻi. “This is clearly an economic committee, but social support and economics go hand in hand in this situation.”
Representative Nadine K. Nakamura said the nonprofit groups on the committee are critical for maintaining a strong safety net for our elderly and economically disadvantaged citizens.
“Given the immediate needs of the most vulnerable in our community and the recently unemployed, please contribute to the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation’s Community Resiliency Fund,” said Representative Nakamura (Hanalei, Princeville, Kīlauea, Anahola, Kapaʻa, Wailua). “Funds will be used to fill critical needs until and even after state and federal benefits arrive.”
Speaker Saiki said the next meeting, set for 10 a.m. Monday, April 6, will focus on how our committee is going to help develop the thought process and the planning to restart our economy.
“That is the primary purpose of our committee. When you look at the representation on this committee and everyone’s commitment level, we can do that,” said Saiki.
To see committee documents, visit https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/specialcommittee.aspx?comm=cov&year=2020.